Friday Five December 5 2014

Current Stories

The price of gasoline is now down to an average of $2.72/gallon. This is good news. This leaves more money in our pockets for other spending or savings. As a political issue, we have never found a strong connection between what the President does and the price of petroleum. While we’re delighted that the price of gas has come down considerably, we don’t attach the lower price to a success of any policy in the Obama administration. Read more here.

In the early 1950’s, the average American consumed roughly 45 pounds of sugar each year. This equated to under 2 ounces per day. (here too). Health issues due to poor diet has now eclipsed tobacco as the #1 health issue in the United States. Today, each of us eats roughly 90 pounds of sugar each year. Soft drinks, processed foods and desserts are the main culprits. Type II diabetes is a direct result of this over-consumption of sugar. In fact, pregnant mothers are now delivering obese babies as they pass along the sugar and fat to their children during pregnancy.

One of the overriding promises of the Obama administration was his ability and expectation that he could heal race relations in this nation where others had failed in the past. What we’ve seen, over the last six years, is that race relations are no better and in some quarters, worse. Only 8% of Americans feel that race relations are better in this country today than when he took office. “But while 54% of whites think the U.S. justice system is fair to blacks, 84% of black voters consider the justice system unfair to them.  Eighty-two percent (82%) of black voters think most black Americans receive unfair treatment from the police. White voters by a 56% to 30% margin don’t believe that’s true. In the Ferguson case, 59% of blacks think white police officer Darren Wilson should be charged with murder for the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown.Just 15% of whites agree. Similar racial divides are found on a number of key issues, with blacks more favorable to a big government approach than whites are. Black voters also continue to overwhelmingly approve of the job Obama is doing as president, while most whites disapprove” (Rasmussen Report) even though blacks are doing worse under President Obama (also here, here and here). It is loyalty based on race, not on outcomes.

40% of the CEOs of our country’s largest companies expect hiring and sales to pick up in 2015. Yet, on the same day, the same magazine (Money Magazine) reported that they trimmed their 2015 sales forecasts and yet expect to boost hirings and capital expenditures. Corporate leaders expect a 2.4% growth in GDP next year. One wonders how all this can be true at the same time. At first blush, what went through our minds was that corporate CEOs have surplus cash on their balance sheets which they funnel into capital expenditures. Apparently, they’re thinking is that they can finally make more profit putting that money to use than they can leaving it in some type of savings or investment instruments.

For an Evangelical Christian, the State of Theology report is disconcerting. What once was accepted as core, common beliefs in Christianity are now questioned. For example, many believe there is no literal heaven or hell. If this is true, then why did Christ die on the cross? Certainly not to make us better people.

National Debt

While the national debt peaked at just over $18T near the end of November, some of the debt was temporarily retired. We’re certain the debt will continue to rise. Congress will increase the debt ceiling and the can will be kicked down the road past the election next year. Nothing will get resolved. Entitlements will continue to extract the wealth of our children and grand-children. And apparently, getting something for free now is more important to us than denying ourselves for the good of our children. The selfishness of our generation is astounding.

Date Debt Held by the Public Intragovernmental Holdings Total Public Debt Outstanding
11/20/2014 12,888,587,001,199.85 5,077,803,051,705.69 17,966,390,052,905.54
11/21/2014 12,889,776,540,331.31 5,076,654,326,113.95 17,966,430,866,445.26
11/24/2014 12,889,755,500,344.12 5,079,585,702,518.56 17,969,341,202,862.68
11/25/2014 12,890,968,195,297.62 5,082,300,179,570.08 17,973,268,374,867.70
11/26/2014 12,890,693,488,815.29 5,073,060,129,141.97 17,963,753,617,957.26
11/28/2014 12,922,681,725,432.94 5,082,867,603,128.51 18,005,549,328,561.45
12/01/2014 12,931,900,593,260.86 5,056,239,108,715.41 17,988,139,701,976.27
12/02/2014 12,932,180,810,260.93 5,062,558,367,892.50 17,994,739,178,153.43
12/03/2014 12,931,967,850,617.08 5,044,928,523,462.92 17,976,896,374,080.00
12/04/2014 12,945,811,624,100.99 5,047,914,557,299.09 17,993,726,181,400.08